How to choose your winter surfing equipment
Hong Kong summer is on its way out, taking the summer crowds at your spot away with it. It's time to get yourself ready for some winter fun: follow our advice to choose the right equipment to enjoy this winter's perfect conditions.
Autumn has barely set in, yet you already cringe at the thought of surfing in cold water? Even though the days are getting shorter, there are many benefits of keeping on surfing in the winter: perfect waves, less crowded spots... Sound good? All you have to do is choose suitable equipment and follow these tips to surf as comfortably as in summer:
Getting your steamer back on in autumn
From October, the water temperature begins to drop, which means it's time to get your full neoprene suit back out. But which one to choose? 5/4mm, 4/3mm or 3/2mm?
Before you throw yourself in the water, carefully choose the neoprene thickness of your suit because this is what will determine how warm it keeps you and therefore how long your session lasts. Think of the neoprene thickness as a second skin, which will act like a barrier against cold water. It is indicated by two or three numbers: 5/4 millimetres, 4/3 or 3/2 millimetres. - The ideal suit for autumn: 3/2 millimetres (mm) meaning that the neoprene thickness is 3mm on the legs and 2mm on the arms. These suits are thinner at the arms to make rotation and paddling easier. Below the 17°C threshold, choose: - The essential suit for winter: 4/3 millimetres (mm) meaning that the neoprene thickness is 4mm on the legs and 3mm on the arms. As you have seen: the thicker your suit's neoprene, the warmer it will keep you. - The 5/4 mm suit, better protection from very cold water: 5/4 millimetres (mm) meaning that the neoprene thickness is 5mm on the legs and 4mm on the arms. Note: you can sometimes find 5/4/3mm wetsuits (this is the case of our equivalent women's model), which are a compromise between a 4/3mm suit and a 5/4mm suit.
Protect yourself from the cold with neoprene accessories
Despite the thickness of your wetsuit, is the cold still forcing you to leave the line-up? No, you're not just being a wimp: adding a thermal top under your suit is a good way to get some extra warmth but have you thought about covering the body parts most in contact with the water during your session?~ In water below 17°C, we recommend covering your extremities to limit heat loss in the following order:
Give your gear a full check-up
The first autumn sessions have arrived, the day that can surfing after work until evening and sunset is truly over... but don't look so glum behind your screen, because it is the best time to let you have well prepare for winter surfing! Surf less but better: start by giving your gear a full check-up before winter catches up with you:
With the change of season comes a change of wax on your board: de-wax and apply your cold water wax from October, or from November if you live further south.
The arrival of winter on our coasts brings with it more consistent and more powerful swells: remember to check the condition of your leash string, the part attached to the plug of your surfboard. And as you can never be too careful, take a spare leash string and leash with you in the boot of your car: this tip will save you from having to reluctantly leave the break if your leash suddenly breaks… In winter, do not take the risk of finding yourself without your board at the peak during a "gnarly" session: at the slightest sign of wear or stretching of your leash, change it! (at least once a year)
The best surfboard for winter conditions
When catching winter waves, having the right board under your feet can make all the difference: if you are already used to surfing different shapes of boards, you will have noticed that some models turn faster, whereas others take off more easily or go faster when paddling. There is no surfboard model that is perfectly suited to all conditions and possible wave sizes, but if you have several boards in your quiver you can surf in all seasons. Briefly, some models have more volume and are suited to small summer waves (for example, longboards and foam surfboards) and others have a slimmer shape (this is the case of shortboards), which is more suitable for surfing more hollow and more powerful waves. Our tip: practise surfing different shapes and sizes of boards to improve your surfing technique and perfect your style.
Once you're out of the water, it's time to relax! In winter, it's best to do some preparation for when you get out of the water or else you might be put off your next surfing sessions:
Wetsuit bag/bucket for rainy days
What a joy to surf in the rain! Very often, a rainy session goes hand in hand with offshore wind and a deserted spot, two things that can only increase our surfing pleasure. But when it's time to head back to your car and put your clothes on in the rain, it's a different story: a wetsuit bag or bucket has the double advantage of protecting your feet from the wet ground and holding your soaking wetsuit without drenching the boot of your car.
Warm up in a poncho
Try to shelter from the wind in the winter to avoid getting cold and remember to get your clothes ready beforehand so that you can efficiently put them on under your poncho (T-shirt the right way round, trousers strategically placed, etc.) . Is the weather not willing to make your life any easier? Go to Plan B: protect the seats of your car with your poncho, crank the heating up in your car and race back home!
A flask of hot drink
Just between us: there's nothing like a hot chocolate waiting for you in the car to reinvigorate you after a chilly session! Tip: also prepare a bottle of hot water before you head out surfing, you can then use it to warm your numb hands and feet after the session!